Policy on Non-Interference with Marine Life for Scuba Divers, Freedivers & Snorkelers in Hawaii
The purpose of this policy is to promote the protection and conservation of marine life in the waters surrounding Hawaii by establishing guidelines for scuba divers to avoid touching or disturbing marine organisms. This policy aims to minimize the negative impact on fragile ecosystems and promote responsible diving practices.
This policy applies to all scuba divers, including tourists, professionals, and enthusiasts, engaging in scuba diving activities in the waters of Hawaii.
All scuba divers are required to adhere to the following guidelines:
a. No Touching:
Divers must refrain from touching, handling, or interfering with any form of marine life, including fish, coral reefs, plants, turtles, mammals, and invertebrates. This includes, but is not limited to, intentional contact, feeding, or attempting to ride or catch marine organisms.
b. Maintain a Respectful Distance:
Divers should maintain a safe and respectful distance from marine life to avoid causing stress, injury, or disruption to their natural behavior. It is essential to observe marine organisms without encroaching on their personal space.
c. Avoid Damaging Coral:
Scuba divers must exercise extreme caution to avoid damaging coral reefs or any other marine structures. Coral is delicate and can take decades or even centuries to recover from physical contact or damage.
d. Photography and Filming:
While capturing underwater photographs and videos is encouraged, divers must do so responsibly. Avoid excessive use of flash photography, which can disturb marine life. Under no circumstances should marine life be manipulated or disturbed for the purpose of capturing photographs or videos.
e. Respect Protected Areas:
Scuba divers must comply with all designated marine protected areas, including no-entry zones, sanctuary areas, and seasonal closures. Familiarize yourself with local regulations and respect them to ensure the preservation of these sensitive environments.
f. Educate and Inform:
Scuba divers should strive to enhance their knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems, local wildlife, and conservation efforts. Educate yourself and others on responsible diving practices, including the avoidance of touching marine life.
4. Compliance and Enforcement:
a. Awareness and Education:
Dive operators, instructors, and guides are responsible for educating divers about this policy before and during dive excursions. They should emphasize the importance of adhering to these guidelines and promote responsible behavior.
b. Peer Influence:
All divers are encouraged to lead by example and remind fellow divers about the policy when necessary. Promote a culture of respect for marine life and encourage others to join in conserving Hawaii’s underwater ecosystems.
c. Reporting Violations:
Any observed violations of this policy should be reported to the appropriate authorities, such as the local marine protection agency or the dive operator responsible for the diving excursion.
5. Consequences of Non-Compliance:
Failure to comply with this policy may result in the following consequences:
a. Education and Warning:
First-time offenders may receive a verbal or written warning along with educational materials regarding responsible diving practices and the importance of marine conservation.
b. Suspension or Termination of Diving Privileges:
Repeat offenders or those engaged in severe violations may face temporary or permanent suspension of diving privileges by dive operators or relevant authorities.
c. Legal Action:
In cases where violations of local regulations or protected area guidelines occur, legal action may be taken, leading to fines, penalties, or prosecution in accordance with applicable laws.
6. Policy Review:
This policy will be reviewed periodically to ensure its effectiveness and relevance. Feedback from dive operators, marine experts, and the diving community will be considered for possible updates and improvements.
By adhering to this policy, scuba divers contribute to the preservation of Hawaii’s marine ecosystems, protect fragile wildlife, and promote sustainable diving practices for future generations to enjoy.